Best Soundbars 2018

Product Use case Rating
Sonos Playbase Best Overall 9
Vizio SB3820-C6 Best Under $100 9
Polk MagniFi Mini Best Small Soundbar 9
Sony HT-ST5000 Best Atmos Soundbar 9
JBL Cinema 450 Best for 4K TVs 8
Sony HT-NT5 Best for Audiophiles 8
Razer Leviathan Best Soundbar for Gaming 7

Getting a soundbar for your home-theater setup gives you the best of both worlds: You don't have to settle for built-in TV speakers — which we've found to be consistently lackluster — but you also get to enjoy quality audio without the cost (or clutter) of a traditional speaker setup.

After testing dozens of the most popular soundbars on the market, we've found the $799 Sonos Playbase to be the best overall pick for those willing to spend a premium thanks to its rich sound and versatility as a home theater speaker. There are plenty of great sub-$100 soundbars for those on a budget, including the excellent Vizio SB3820-C6. Looking for something in-between? Check out our top picks below.

Latest News and Updates (February 2018)

How We Test Soundbars

When testing soundbars, we play range of media — including movies, music and games — in order to evaluate overall sound quality. We also test any companion software that may come with a soundbar, and factor in how easy it is to set up and use each device.

Other features we consider include a soundbar's inputs, outputs and ability to be wall mounted, all of which determine how well it will work with your home entertainment setup. We also take into account each soundbar's wattage, its supported audio channels and whether it includes a subwoofer — all factors that greatly affect how each speaker will sound in your living room.

What is Dolby Atmos?

More and more soundbars are embracing Dolby Atmos, which is a surround sound technology designed to simulate the immersive 3D audio you'd get from a movie theater. The big difference between Atmos and traditional surround sound is that you'll hear sound move up and down and not just side-to-side, allowing you to get extra immersed when, say, a car flies overhead in an action movie. There are already lots of soundbars that support Atmos, including the LG SJ9, Sony HT-ST5000, and Yamaha YSP-5600. For more on the technology, check out our complete guide to Dolby Atmos.

What Soundbars Cost

You can get a decent soundbar for less than $100, as long as you're not expecting much in the way of special features. Stepping up to the $200-$300 range will get you extras such as a subwoofer and virtual surround sound, though you'll spending closer to $500 to $600 if you want fancy extras like Hi-Fi audio and 4K passthrough. Dolby Atmos soundbars can be found for as little as $300, but higher end models loaded with bells and whistles can easily run you over $1,000.

Related Buying Guides:
Best TVs
Best Headphones and Earbuds
Best Bluetooth Speakers

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  • BklynBorn
    Warning! Turns out it's impossible to link my lovely Vizio sound bar and Time Warner cable because one requires 3-digit code, the other 4-digit Coe. So every time I turn on the tv or change the volume I need to find the tiny Vizio remote. To add injury to injury, that remote is impossible to open to change batteries.
  • paulr1
    Hi, Have you evaluated ZVOX? Might want to take a listen.
  • Alex_229
    Do soundbars deliver the same effect as surround speakers?
  • ryand52002
    How would you rate the klipsch R-10B in comparission? I just bought it for $175
  • Brice_2
    Is it possible, with "any" sound bar, to make it function as a slave to the new skinny TV so that it turns on and off automatically with the TV without resorting to using a separate remote to control the sound bar? In other words, I want it to behave as if it was installed at the factory as part of the TV and the TV remote could control the volume up and down. Is that possible? I'm 79 and I'm damned tired of messing with buttons trying to see and hear something on TV. I doubt if I can find this discussion ever again so it would be nice if you could send me a copy of your response to my email at[don't post your email address on the forum]. Thank you!!
  • Insulaventus
    The Yamaha yas-203 (Best soundbar with subwoofer) isn't available any longer in my country :( is there another good option i should consider?
  • zthomas
    I have a two Sony sound bases.. Sony was first to offer a sound base.. They are hooked up with the optic cable.. The sound is equate, the based come alive when playing a cd or rented movie through the cable provider, both were purchased through amazon for under 300.00. I can't see paying anymore 300 for just sound for a TV.
  • Savannahgeek
    You should review the Samsung HW-k950 soundbar again. The lastest firmware allows not only for atmos, but DTS 5.1 instead of the original DTS 2.0. Also, when used with the Xbox One S and activating the Dolby Atmos app, makes plain Dolby 5.1 sound great, better than the built in surround upmixer. This is till the best atmos soundbar, and the only 5.1.4 available. Can't beat it.
  • zthomas
    Your opinion is noted.. I stand by my past answer.. the Sony base.. I do NO gaming on my TV.. not a fan of xbox.. some of there games are okay.. I got a super pricey Acer 27 inch g-sync monitor with a Nvidia 980 video card and a sound blaster sound card with Aperion powered speakers.. talk about having a kick ass sounding system..